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ASTORIA; OR, ANECDOTES OF AN ENTERPRISE BEYOND THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

Part 4 out of 9

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sufficient number of them for his great journey overland, which
would commence at that place.

After reflecting on this advice, and consulting with his
associates, Mr. Hunt came to the determination to follow the
route thus pointed out, to which the hunters engaged to pilot
him.

The party continued their voyage with delightful May weather. The
prairies bordering on the river were gayly painted with
innumerable flowers, exhibiting the motley confusion of colors of
a Turkey carpet. The beautiful islands, also, on which they
occasionally halted, presented the appearance of mingled grove
and garden. The trees were often covered with clambering
grapevines in blossom, which perfumed the air. Between the
stately masses of the groves were grassy lawns and glades,
studded with flowers, or interspersed with rose-bushes in full
bloom. These islands were often the resort of the buffalo, the
elk, and the antelope, who had made innumerable paths among the
trees and thickets, which had the effect of the mazy walks and
alleys of parks and shrubberies. Sometimes, where the river
passed between high banks and bluffs, the roads made by the tramp
of buffaloes for many ages along the face of the heights, looked
like so many well-travelled highways. At other places the banks
were banded with great veins of iron ore, laid bare by the
abrasion of the river. At one place the course of the river was
nearly in a straight line for about fifteen miles. The banks
sloped gently to its margin, without a single tree, but bordered
with grass and herbage of a vivid green. Along each bank, for the
whole fifteen miles, extended a stripe, one hundred yards in
breadth, of a deep rusty brown, indicating an inexhaustible bed
of iron, through the center of which the Missouri had worn its
way. Indications of the continuance of this bed were afterwards
observed higher up the river. It is, in fact, one of the mineral
magazines which nature has provided in the heart of this vast
realm of fertility, and which, in connection with the immense
beds of coal on the same river, seem garnered up as the elements
of the future wealth and power of the mighty West.

The sight of these mineral treasures greatly excited the
curiosity of Mr. Bradbury, and it was tantalizing to him to be
checked in his scientific researches, and obliged to forego his
usual rambles on shore; but they were now entering the fated
country of the Sioux Tetons, in which it was dangerous to wander
about unguarded.

This country extends for some days' journey along the river, and
consists of vast prairies, here and there diversified by swelling
hills, and cut up by ravines, the channels of turbid streams in
the rainy seasons, but almost destitute of water during the heats
of summer. Here and there on the sides of the hills, or along the
alluvial borders and bottoms of the ravines, are groves and
skirts of forest: but for the most part the country presented to
the eye a boundless waste, covered with herbage, but without
trees.

The soil of this immense region is strongly impregnated with
sulphur, copperas, alum, and glauber salts; its various earths
impart a deep tinge to the streams which drain it, and these,
with the crumbling of the banks along the Missouri, give to the
waters of that river much of the coloring matter with which they
are clouded.

Over this vast tract the roving bands of the Sioux Tetons hold
their vagrant sway, subsisting by the chase of the buffalo, the
elk, the deer, and the antelope, and waging ruthless warfare with
other wandering tribes.

As the boats made their way up the stream bordered by this land
of danger, many of the Canadian voyageurs, whose fears had been
awakened, would regard with a distrustful eye the boundless waste
extending on each side. All, however, was silent, and apparently
untenanted by a human being. Now and then a herd of deer would be
seen feeding tranquilly among the flowery herbage, or a line of
buffaloes, like a caravan on its march, moving across the distant
profile of the prairie. The Canadians, however, began to
apprehend an ambush in every thicket, and to regard the broad,
tranquil plain as a sailor eyes some shallow and perfidious sea,
which, though smooth and safe to the eye, conceals the lurking
rock or treacherous shoal. The very name of a Sioux became a
watchword of terror. Not an elk, a wolf, or any other animal,
could appear on the hills, but the boats resounded with
exclamations from stem to stern,"voila les Sioux! voila les
Sioux!" (there are the Sioux! there are the Sioux!) Whenever it
was practicable, the night encampment was on some island in the
center of the stream.

On the morning of the 31st of May, as the travellers were
breakfasting on the right bank of the river, the usual alarm was
given, but with more reason, as two Indians actually made their
appearance on a bluff on the opposite or northern side, and
harangued them in a loud voice. As it was impossible at that
distance to distinguish what they said, Mr. Hunt, after
breakfast, crossed the river with Pierre Dorion, the interpreter,
and advanced boldly to converse with them, while the rest
remained watching in mute suspense the movements of the parties.
As soon as Mr. Hunt landed, one of the Indians disappeared behind
the hill, but shortly reappeared on horseback, and went scouring
off across the heights. Mr. Hunt held some conference with the
remaining savage, and then recrossed the river to his party.

These two Indians proved to be spies or scouts of a large war
party encamped about a league off, and numbering two hundred and
eighty lodges, or about six hundred warriors, of three different
tribes of Sioux; the Yangtons Ahna, the Tetons Bois-brule, and
the Tetons Min-na-kine-azzo. They expected daily to be reinforced
by two other tribes, and had been waiting eleven days for the
arrival of Mr. Hunt's party, with a determination to oppose their
progress up the river; being resolved to prevent all trade of the
white men with their enemies the Arickaras, Mandans, and
Minatarees. The Indian who had galloped off on horseback had gone
to give notice of the approach of the party, so that they might
now look out for some fierce scenes with those piratical savages,
of whom they had received so many formidable accounts.

The party braced up their spirits to the encounter, and
reembarking, pulled resolutely up the stream. An island for some
time intervened between them and the opposite side of the river;
but on clearing the upper end, they came in full view of the
hostile shore. There was a ridge of hills down which the savages
were pouring in great numbers, some on horseback, and some on
foot. Reconnoitering them with the aid of glasses, they perceived
that they were all in warlike array, painted and decorated for
battle. Their weapons were bows and arrows, and a few short
carbines, and most of them had round shields. Altogether they had
a wild and gallant appearance, and, taking possession of a point
which commanded the river, ranged themselves along the bank as if
prepared to dispute their passage.

At sight of this formidable front of war, Mr. Hunt and his
companions held counsel together. It was plain that the rumors
they had heard were correct, and the Sioux were determined to
oppose their progress by force of arms. To attempt to elude them
and continue along the river was out of the question. The
strength of the mid-current was too violent to be withstood, and
the boats were obliged to ascend along the river banks. These
banks were often high and perpendicular, affording the savages
frequent stations, from whence, safe themselves, and almost
unseen, they might shower down their missiles upon the boats
below, and retreat at will, without danger from pursuit. Nothing
apparently remained, therefore, but to fight or turn back. The
Sioux far outnumbered them, it is true, but their own party was
about sixty strong, well armed and supplied with ammunition; and,
beside their guns and rifles, they had a swivel and two howitzers
mounted in the boats. Should they succeed in breaking this Indian
force by one vigorous assault, it was likely they would be
deterred from making any future attack of consequence. The
fighting alternative was, therefore, instantly adopted, and the
boats pulled to shore nearly opposite to the hostile force. Here
the arms were all examined and put in order. The swivel and
howitzers were then loaded with powder and discharged, to let the
savages know by the report how formidably they were provided. The
noise echoed along the shores of the river, and must have
startled the warriors who were only accustomed to sharp reports
of rifles. The same pieces were then loaded with as many bullets
as they would probably bear; after which the whole party
embarked, and pulled across the river. The Indians remained
watching them in silence, their painted forms and visages glaring
in the sun, and their feathers fluttering in the breeze. The poor
Canadians eyed them with rueful glances, and now and then a
fearful ejaculation escaped them. "Parbleu! this is a sad scrape
we are in, brother!" one would mutter to the next oarsman. "Aye,
aye!" the other would reply, "we are not going to a wedding, my
friend!"

When the boats arrived within rifle-shot, the hunters and other
fighting personages on board seized their weapons, and prepared
for action. As they rose to fire, a confusion took place among
the savages. They displayed their buffalo robes, raised them with
both hands above their heads, and then spread them before them on
the ground. At sight of this, Pierre Dorion eagerly cried out to
the party not to fire, as this movement was a peaceful signal,
and an invitation to a parley. Immediately about a dozen of the
principal warriors, separating from the rest, descended to the
edge of the river, lighted a fire, seated themselves in a
semicircle round it, and, displaying the calumet, invited the
party to land. Mr. Hunt now called a council of the partners on
board of his boat. The question was, whether to trust to the
amicable overtures of these ferocious people? It was determined
in the affirmative; for, otherwise, there was no alternative but
to fight them. The main body of the party were ordered to remain
on board of the boats, keeping within shot and prepared to fire
in case of any signs of treachery; while Mr. Hunt and the other
partners (M'Kenzie, Crooks, Miller, and M'Lellan) proceeded to
land, accompanied by the interpreter and Mr. Bradbury. The
chiefs, who awaited them on the margin of the river, remained
seated in their semicircle, without stirring a limb or moving a
muscle, motionless as so many statues. Mr. Hunt and his
companions advanced without hesitation, and took their seats on
the sand so as to complete the circle. The band of warriors who
lined the banks above stood looking down in silent groups and
clusters, some ostentatiously equipped and decorated, others
entirely naked but fantastically painted, and all variously
armed.

The pipe of peace was now brought forward with due ceremony. The
bowl was of a species of red stone resembling porphyry; the stem
was six feet in length, decorated with tufts of horse-hair dyed
red. The pipe-bearer stepped within the circle, lighted the pipe,
held it towards the sun, then towards the different points of the
compass, after which he handed it to the principal chief. The
latter smoked a few whiffs, then, holding the head of the pipe in
his hand, offered the other end to Mr. Hunt, and to each one
successively in the circle. When all had smoked, it was
considered that an assurance of good faith and amity had been
interchanged. Mr. Hunt now made a speech in French, which was
interpreted as he proceeded by Pierre Dorion. He informed the
Sioux of the real object of the expedition of himself and his
companions, which was, not to trade with any of the tribes up the
river, but to cross the mountains to the great salt lake in the
west, in search of some of their brothers, whom they had not seen
for eleven months. That he had heard of the intention of the
Sioux to oppose his passage, and was prepared, as they might see,
to effect it at all hazards; nevertheless, his feelings towards
the Sioux were friendly, in proof of which he had brought them a
present of tobacco and corn. So saying, he ordered about fifteen
carottes of tobacco, and as many bags of corn, to be brought from
the boat and laid in a heap near the council fire.

The sight of these presents mollified the chieftain, who had,
doubtless, been previously rendered considerate by the resolute
conduct of the white men, the judicious disposition of their
little armament, the completeness of their equipments, and the
compact array of battle which they presented. He made a speech in
reply, in which he stated the object of their hostile assemblage,
which had been merely to prevent supplies of arms and ammunition
from going to the Arickaras, Mandans, and Minatarees, with whom
they were at war; but being now convinced that the party were
carrying no supplies of the kind, but merely proceeding in quest
of their brothers beyond the mountains, they would not impede
them in their voyage. He concluded by thanking them for their
present, and advising them to encamp on the opposite side of the
river, as he had some young men among his warriors for whose
discretion he could not be answerable, and who might be
troublesome.

Here ended the conference: they all arose, shook hands, and
parted. Mr. Hunt and his companions re-embarked, and the boats
proceeded on their course unmolested.

CHAPTER XIX.

The Great Bend of the Missouri- Crooks and M'Lellan Meet With Two
of Their Indian Opponents- Wanton Outrage of a White Man the
Cause of Indian Hostility- Dangers and Precautions.-An Indian War
Party.- Dangerous Situation of Mr. Hunt.- A Friendly Encampment.
-Feasting and Dancing.- Approach of Manuel Lisa and His Party -.A
Grim Meeting Between Old Rivals.- Pierre Dorion in a Fury.- A
Burst of chivalry.

ON the afternoon of the following day (June 1st) they arrived at
the great bend, where the river winds for about thirty miles
round a circular peninsula, the neck of which is not above two
thousand yards across. On the succeeding morning, at an early
hour, they descried two Indians standing on a high bank of the
river, waving and spreading their buffalo robes in signs of
amity. They immediately pulled to shore and landed. On
approaching the savages, however, the latter showed evident
symptoms of alarm, spreading out their arms horizontally,
according to their mode of supplicating clemency. The reason was
soon explained. They proved to be two chiefs of the very war
party that had brought Messrs. Crooks and M'Lellan to a stand two
years before, and obliged them to escape down the river. They ran
to embrace these gentlemen, as if delighted to meet with them;
yet they evidently feared some retaliation of their past
misconduct, nor were they quite at ease until the pipe of peace
had been smoked.

Mr. Hunt having been informed that the tribe to which these men
belonged had killed three white men during the preceding summer,
reproached them with the crime, and demanded their reasons for
such savage hostility. "We kill white men," replied one of the
chiefs, "because white men kill us. That very man," added he,
pointing to Carson, one of the new recruits, "killed one of our
brothers last summer. The three white men were slain to avenge
his death."

Their chief was correct in his reply. Carson admitted that, being
with a party of Arickaras on the banks of the Missouri, and
seeing a war party of Sioux on the opposite side, he had fired
with his rifle across. It was a random shot, made without much
expectation of effect, for the river was full half a mile in
breadth. Unluckily it brought down a Sioux warrior, for whose
wanton destruction threefold vengeance had been taken, as has
been stated. In this way outrages are frequently committed on the
natives by thoughtless or mischievous white men; the Indians
retaliate according to a law of their code, which requires blood
for blood; their act, of what with them is pious vengeance,
resounds throughout the land, and is represented as wanton and
unprovoked; the neighborhood is roused to arms; a war ensues,
which ends in the destruction of half the tribe, the ruin of the
rest, and their expulsion from their hereditary homes. Such is
too often the real history of Indian warfare, which in general is
traced up only to some vindictive act of a savage; while the
outrage of the scoundrel white man that provoked it is sunk in
silence.

The two chiefs, having smoked their pipe of peace and received a
few presents, departed well satisfied. In a little while two
others appeared on horseback, and rode up abreast of the boats.
They had seen the presents given to their comrades, but were
dissatisfied with them, and came after the boats to ask for more.
Being somewhat peremptory and insolent in their demands, Mr. Hunt
gave them a flat refusal, and threatened, if they or any of their
tribes followed him with similar demands, to treat them as
enemies. They turned and rode off in a furious passion. As he was
ignorant what force these chiefs might have behind the hills, and
as it was very possible they might take advantage of some pass of
the river to attack the boats, Mr. Hunt called all stragglers on
board and prepared for such emergency. It was agreed that the
large boat commanded by Mr. Hunt should ascend along the
northeast side of the river, and the three smaller boats along
the south side. By this arrangement each party would command a
view of the opposite heights above the heads and out of sight of
their companions, and could give the alarm should they perceive
any Indians lurking there. The signal of alarm was to be two
shots fired in quick succession.

The boats proceeded for the greater part of the day without
seeing any signs of an enemy. About four o'clock in the afternoon
the large boat, commanded by Mr. Hunt, came to where the river
was divided by a long sand-bar, which apparently, however, left a
sufficient channel between it and the shore along which they were
advancing. He kept up this channel, therefore, for some distance,
until the water proved too shallow for the boat. It was
necessary, therefore, to put about, return down the channel, and
pull round the lower end of the sand-bar into the main stream.
Just as he had given orders to this effect to his men, two signal
guns were fired from the boats on the opposite side of the river.
At the same moment, a file of savage warriors was observed
pouring down from the impending bank, and gathering on the shore
at the lower end of the bar. They were evidently a war party,
being armed with bows and arrows, battle clubs and carbines, and
round bucklers of buffalo hide, and their naked bodies were
painted with black and white stripes. The natural inference was,
that they belonged to the two tribes of Sioux which had been
expected by the great war party, and that they had been incited
to hostility by the two chiefs who had been enraged by the
refusal and the menace of Mr. Hunt. Here then was a fearful
predicament. Mr. Hunt and his crew seemed caught, as it were, in
a trap. The Indians, to a number of about a hundred, had already
taken possession of a point near which the boat would have to
pass: others kept pouring down the bank, and it was probable that
some would remain posted on the top of the height.

The hazardous situation of Mr. Hunt was perceived by those in the
other boats, and they hastened to his assistance. They were at
some distance above the sand-bar, however, and on the opposite
side of the river, and saw, with intense anxiety, the number of
savages continually augmenting, at the lower end of the channel,
so that the boat would be exposed to a fearful attack before they
could render it any assistance. Their anxiety increased, as they
saw Mr. Hunt and his party descending the channel and dauntlessly
approaching the point of danger; but it suddenly changed into
surprise on beholding the boat pass close by the savage horde
unmolested, and steer out safely into the broad river.

The next moment the whole band of warriors was in motion. They
ran along the bank until they were opposite to the boats, then
throwing by their weapons and buffalo robes, plunged into the
river, waded and swam off to the boats and surrounded them in
crowds, seeking to shake hands with every individual on board;
for the Indians have long since found this to be the white man's
token of amity, and they carried it to an extreme.

All uneasiness was now at an end. The Indians proved to be a war
party of Arickaras, Mandans, and Minatarees, consisting of three
hundred warriors, and bound on a foray against the Sioux. Their
war plans were abandoned for the present, and they determined to
return to the Arickara town, where they hoped to obtain from the
white men arms and ammunition that would enable them to take the
field with advantage over their enemies.

The boats now sought the first convenient place for encamping.
The tents were pitched; the warriors fixed their camp at about a
hundred yards distant; provisions were furnished from the boats
sufficient for all parties; there was hearty though rude feasting
in both camps, and in the evening the red warriors entertained
their white friends with dances and songs, that lasted until
after midnight.

On the following morning (July 3) the travellers re-embarked, and
took a temporary leave of their Indian friends, who intended to
proceed immediately for the Arickara town, where they expected to
arrive in three days, long before the boats could reach there.
Mr. Hunt had not proceeded far before the chief came galloping
along the shore and made signs for a parley. He said, his people
could not go home satisfied unless they had something to take
with them to prove that they had met with the white men. Mr. Hunt
understood the drift of the speech, and made the chief a present
of a cask of powder, a bag of balls, and three dozen of knives,
with which he was highly pleased. While the chief was receiving
these presents an Indian came running along the shore, and
announced that a boat, filled with white men, was coming up the
river. This was by no means agreeable tidings to Mr. Hunt, who
correctly concluded it to be the boat of Mr. Manuel Lisa; and he
was vexed to find that alert and adventurous trader upon his
heels, whom he hoped to have out-maneuvered, and left far behind.
Lisa, however, was too much experienced in the wiles of Indian
trade to be lulled by the promise of waiting for him at the
Poncas village; on the contrary, he had allowed himself no
repose, and had strained every nerve to overtake the rival party,
and availing himself of the moonlight, had even sailed during a
considerable part of the night. In this he was partly prompted by
his apprehensions of the Sioux, having met a boat which had
probably passed Mr. Hunt's party in the night, and which had been
fired into by these savages.

On hearing that Lisa was so near at hand, Mr. Hunt perceived that
it was useless to attempt any longer to evade him; after
proceeding a few miles further, therefore, he came to a halt and
waited for him to come up. In a little while the barge of Lisa
made its appearance. It came sweeping gently up the river, manned
by its twenty stout oarsmen, and armed by a swivel mounted at the
bow. The whole number on board amounted to twenty-six men: among
whom was Mr. Henry Breckenridge, then a young, enterprising man;
who was a mere passenger, tempted by notions of curiosity to
accompany Mr. Lisa. He has since made himself known by various
writings, among which may be noted a narrative of this very
voyage.

The approach of Lisa, while it was regarded with uneasiness by
Mr. Hunt, roused the ire of M'Lellan; who, calling to mind old
grievances, began to look round for his rifle, as if he really
intended to carry his threat into execution and shoot him on the
spot; and it was with some difficulty that Mr. Hunt was enabled
to restrain his ire, and prevent a scene of outraged confusion.

The meeting between the two leaders, thus mutually distrustful,
could not be very cordial: and as to Messrs. Crooks and M'Lellan,
though they refrained from any outbreak, yet they regarded in
grim defiance their old rival and underplotter. In truth a
general distrust prevailed throughout the party concerning Lisa
and his intentions. They considered him artful and slippery, and
secretly anxious for the failure of their expedition. There being
now nothing more to be apprehended from the Sioux, they suspected
that Lisa would take advantage of his twenty-oared barge to leave
them and get first among the Arickaras. As he had traded with
those people and possessed great influence over them, it was
feared he might make use of it to impede the business of Mr. Hunt
and his party. It was resolved, therefore, to keep a sharp look-
out upon his movements; and M'Lellan swore that if he saw the
least sign of treachery on his part, he would instantly put his
old threat into execution.

Notwithstanding these secret jealousies and heart-burnings, the
two parties maintained an outward appearance of civility, and for
two days continued forward in company with some degree of
harmony. On the third day, however, an explosion took place, and
it was produced by no less a personage than Pierre Dorion, the
half-breed interpreter. It will be recollected that this worthy
had been obliged to steal a march from St. Louis, to avoid being
arrested for an old whiskey debt which he owed to the Missouri
Fur Company, and by which Mr. Lisa had hoped to prevent his
enlisting in Mr. Hunt's expedition. Dorion, since the arrival of
Lisa, had kept aloof and regarded him with a sullen and dogged
aspect. On the fifth of July the two parties were brought to a
halt by a heavy rain, and remained encamped about a hundred yards
apart. In the course of the day Lisa undertook to tamper with the
faith of Pierre Dorion, and, inviting him on board of his boat,
regaled him with his favorite whiskey. When he thought him
sufficiently mellowed, he proposed to him to quit the service of
his new employers and return to his old allegiance. Finding him
not to be moved by soft words, he called to mind his old debt to
the company, and threatened to carry him off by force, in payment
of it. The mention of this debt always stirred up the gall of
Pierre Dorion, bringing with it the remembrance of the whiskey
extortion. A violent quarrel arose between him and Lisa, and he
left the boat in high dudgeon. His first step was to repair to
the tent of Mr. Hunt and reveal the attempt that had been made to
shake his faith. While he was yet talking Lisa entered the tent,
under the pretext of coming to borrow a towing line. High words
instantly ensued between him and Dorion, which ended by the half-
breed's dealing him a blow. A quarrel in the "Indian country",
however, is not to be settled with fisticuffs. Lisa immediately
rushed to his boat for a weapon. Dorion snatched up a pair of
pistols belonging to Mr. Hunt, and placed himself in battle
array. The noise had roused the camp, and every one pressed to
know the cause. Lisa now reappeared upon the field with a knife
stuck in his girdle. Mr. Breckenridge, who had tried in vain to
mollify his ire, accompanied him to the scene of action. Pierre
Dorion's pistols gave him the advantage, and he maintained a most
warlike attitude. In the meantime, Crooks and M'Lellan had learnt
the cause of the affray, and were each eager to take the quarrel
into their own hands. A scene of uproar and hubbub ensued that
defies description. M'Lellan would have brought his rifle into
play and settled all old and new grudges by a pull of the
trigger, had he not been restrained by Mr. Hunt. That gentleman
acted as moderator, endeavoring to prevent a general melee; in
the midst of the brawl, however, an expression was made use of by
Lisa derogatory to his own honor. In an instant the tranquil
spirit of Mr. Hunt was in a flame. He now became as eager for the
fight as any one on the ground, and challenged Lisa to settle the
dispute on the spot with pistols. Lisa repaired to his boat to
arm himself for the deadly feud. He was followed by Messrs.
Bradbury and Breckenridge, who, novices in Indian life and the
"chivalry" of the frontier, had no relish for scenes of blood and
brawl. By their earnest mediation the quarrel was brought to a
close without bloodshed; but the two leaders of the rival camps
separated in anger, and all personal intercourse ceased between
them.

CHAPTER XX.

Features of the Wilderness- Herds of Buffalo.- Antelopes- Their
Varieties and Habits.- John Day.- His Hunting Strategy- Interview
with Three Arickaras- Negotiations Between the Rival Parties -
The Left-Handed and the Big Man, two Arickara Chiefs.- Arickara
Village- Its Inhabitants- Ceremonials on Landing- A Council
Lodge.- Grand Conference - Speech of Lisa.- Negotiation for
Horses. -Shrewd Suggestion of Gray Eyes, an Arickara Chief -
Encampment of the Trading Parties.

THE rival parties now coasted along the opposite sides of the
river, within sight of each other; the barges of Mr. Hunt always
keeping some distance in the advance, lest Lisa should push on
and get first to the Arickara village. The scenery and objects,
as they proceeded, gave evidence that they were advancing deeper
and deeper into the domains of savage nature. Boundless wastes
kept extending to the eye, more and more animated by herds of
buffalo. Sometimes these unwieldy animals were seen moving in
long procession across the silent landscape; at other times they
were scattered about, singly or in groups, on the broad, enameled
prairies and green acclivities, some cropping the rich pasturage,
others reclining amidst the flowery herbage; the whole scene
realizing in a manner the old Scriptural descriptions of the vast
pastoral countries of the Orient, with "cattle upon a thousand
hills."

At one place the shores seemed absolutely lined with buffaloes;
many were making their way across the stream, snorting, and
blowing, and floundering. Numbers, in spite of every effort, were
borne by the rapid current within shot of the boats, and several
were killed. At another place a number were descried on the beach
of a small island, under the shade of the trees, or standing in
the water, like cattle, to avoid the flies and the heat of the
day.

Several of the best marksmen stationed themselves in the bow of a
barge which advanced slowly and silently, stemming the current
with the aid of a broad sail and a fair breeze. The buffaloes
stood gazing quietly at the barge as it approached, perfectly
unconscious of their danger. The fattest of the herd was selected
by the hunters, who all fired together and brought down their
victim.

Besides the buffaloes they saw abundance of deer, and frequent
gangs of stately elks, together with light troops of sprightly
antelopes, the fleetest and most beautiful inhabitants of the
prairies.

There are two kinds of antelopes in these regions, one nearly the
size of the common deer, the other not much larger than a goat.
Their color is a light gray, or rather dun, slightly spotted with
white; and they have small horns like those of the deer, which
they never shed. Nothing can surpass the delicate and elegant
finish of their limbs, in which lightness, elasticity, and
strength are wonderfully combined. All the attitudes and
movements of this beautiful animal are graceful and picturesque;
and it is altogether as fit a subject for the fanciful uses of
the poet as the oft-sung gazelle of the East.

Their habits are shy and capricious; they keep on the open
plains, are quick to take the alarm, and bound away with a
fleetness that defies pursuit. When thus skimming across a
prairie in the autumn, their light gray or dun color blends with
the hue of the withered herbage, the swiftness of their motion
baffles the eye, and they almost seem unsubstantial forms, driven
like gossamer before the wind.

While they thus keep to the open plain and trust to their speed,
they are safe; but they have a prurient curiosity that sometimes
betrays them to their ruin. When they have scud for some distance
and left their pursuer behind, they will suddenly stop and turn
to gaze at the object of their alarm. If the pursuit is not
followed up they will, after a time, yield to their inquisitive
hankering, and return to the place from whence they have been
frightened.

John Day, the veteran hunter already mentioned, displayed his
experience and skill in entrapping one of these beautiful
animals. Taking advantage of its well known curiosity, he laid
down flat among the grass, and putting his handkerchief on the
end of his ramrod, waved it gently in the air. This had the
effect of the fabled fascination of the rattlesnake. The antelope
approached timidly, pausing and reconnoitering with increased
curiosity; moving round the point of attraction in a circle, but
still drawing nearer and nearer, until being within range of the
deadly rifle, he fell a victim to his curiosity.

On the 10th of June, as the party were making brisk progress with
a fine breeze, they met a canoe with three Indians descending the
river. They came to a parley, and brought news from the Arickara
village. The war party, which had caused such alarm at the sand-
bar, had reached the village some days previously, announced the
approach of a party of traders, and displayed with great
ostentation the presents they had received from them. On further
conversation with these three Indians, Mr. Hunt learnt the real
danger which he had run, when hemmed up within the sand-bar. The
Mandans who were of the war party, when they saw the boat so
completely entrapped and apparently within their power, had been
eager for attacking it, and securing so rich a prize. The
Minatarees, also, were nothing loath, feeling in some measure
committed in hostility to the whites, in consequence of their
tribe having killed two white men above the fort of the Missouri
Fur Company. Fortunately, the Arickaras, who formed the majority
of the war party, proved true in their friendship to the whites,
and prevented any hostile act, otherwise a bloody affray, and
perhaps a horrible massacre might have ensued.

On the 11th of June, Mr. Hunt and his companions encamped near an
island about six miles below the Arickara village. Mr. Lisa
encamped, as usual, at no great distance; but the same sullen
jealous reserve and non-intercourse continued between them.
Shortly after pitching the tents, Mr. Breckenridge made his
appearance as an ambassador from the rival camp. He came on
behalf of his companions, to arrange the manner of making their
entrance into the village and of receiving the chiefs; for
everything of the kind is a matter of grave ceremonial among the
Indians.

The partners now expressed frankly their deep distrust of the
intentions of Mr. Lisa, and their apprehensions, that, out of the
jealousy of trade, and resentment of recent disputes, he might
seek to instigate the Arickaras against them. Mr. Breckenridge
assured them that their suspicions were entirely groundless, and
pledged himself that nothing of the kind should take place. He
found it difficult, however, to remove their distrust; the
conference, therefore, ended without producing any cordial
understanding; and M'Lellan recurred to his old threat of
shooting Lisa the instant he discovered anything like treachery
in his proceedings.

That night the rain fell in torrents, accompanied by thunder and
lightning. The camp was deluged, and the bedding and baggage
drenched. All hands embarked at an early hour, and set forward
for the village. About nine o'clock, when half way, they met a
canoe, on board of which were two Arickara dignitaries. One, a
fine-looking man, much above the common size, was hereditary
chief of the village; he was called the Left-handed, on account
of a personal peculiarity. The other, a ferocious-looking savage,
was the war chief, or generalissimo; he was known by the name of
the Big Man, an appellation he well deserved from his size, for
he was of a gigantic frame. Both were of fairer complexion than
is usual with savages.

They were accompanied by an interpreter; a French creole, one of
those haphazard wights of Gallic origin who abound upon our
frontiers, living among the Indians like one of their own race.
He had been twenty years among the Arickaras, had a squaw and
troop of piebald children, and officiated as interpreter to the
chiefs. Through this worthy organ the two dignitaries signified
to Mr. Hunt their sovereign intention to oppose the further
progress of the expedition up the river unless a boat were left
to trade with them. Mr. Hunt, in reply, explained the object of
his voyage, and his intention of debarking at their village and
proceeding thence by land; and that he would willingly trade with
them for a supply of horses for his journey. With this
explanation they were perfectly satisfied, and putting about,
steered for their village to make preparations for the reception
of the strangers.

The village of the Rikaras, Arickaras, or Ricarees, for the name
is thus variously written, is between the 46th and 47th parallels
of north latitude, and fourteen hundred and thirty miles above
the mouth of the Missouri. The party reached it about ten o'clock
in the morning, but landed on the opposite side of the river,
where they spread out their baggage and effects to dry. From
hence they commanded an excellent view of the village. It was
divided into two portions, about eighty yards apart, being
inhabited by two distinct bands. The whole extended about three-
quarters of a mile along the river bank, and was composed of
conical lodges, that looked like so many small hillocks, being
wooden frames intertwined with osier, and covered with earth. The
plain beyond the village swept up into hills of considerable
height, but the whole country was nearly destitute of trees.
While they were regarding the village, they beheld a singular
fleet coming down the river. It consisted of a number of canoes,
each made of a single buffalo hide stretched on sticks, so as to
form a kind of circular trough. Each one was navigated by a
single squaw, who knelt in the bottom and paddled; towing after
her frail bark a bundle of floating wood intended for firing.
This kind of canoe is in frequent use among the Indians; the
buffalo hide being readily made up into a bundle and transported
on horseback; it is very serviceable in conveying baggage across
the rivers.

The great number of horses grazing around the village, and
scattered over the neighboring hills and valleys, bespoke the
equestrian habit of the Arickaras, who are admirable horsemen.
Indeed, in the number of his horses consists the wealth of an
Indian of the prairies; who resembles an Arab in his passion for
this noble animal, and in his adroitness in the management of it.

After a time, the voice of the sovereign chief, "the Left-
handed," was heard across the river, announcing that the council
lodge was preparing, and inviting the white men to come over. The
river was half a mile in width, yet every word uttered by the
chieftain was heard; this may be partly attributed to the
distinct manner in which every syllable of the compound words in
the Indian language is articulated and accented; but in truth, a
savage warrior might often rival Achilles himself for force of
lungs. * (* Bradbury, p. 110.)

Now came the delicate point of management - how the two rival
parties were to conduct their visit to the village with proper
circumspection and due decorum. Neither of the leaders had spoken
to each other since their quarrel. All communication had been by
ambassadors. Seeing the jealousy entertained of Lisa, Mr.
Breckenridge, in his negotiation, had arranged that a deputation
from each party should cross the river at the same time, so that
neither would have the first access to the ear of the Arickaras.

The distrust of Lisa, however, had increased in proportion as
they approached the sphere of action; and M'Lellan, in
particular, kept a vigilant eye upon his motions, swearing to
shoot him if he attempted to cross the river first.

About two o'clock the large boat of Mr. Hunt was manned, and he
stepped on board, accompanied by Messrs. M'Kenzie and M'Lellan;
Lisa at the same time embarked in his barge; the two deputations
amounted in all to fourteen persons, and never was any movement
of rival potentates conducted with more wary exactness.

They landed amidst a rabble crowd, and were received on the bank
by the left-handed chief, who conducted them into the village
with grave courtesy; driving to the right and left the swarms of
old squaws, imp-like boys, and vagabond dogs, with which the
place abounded. They wound their way between the cabins, which
looked like dirt-heaps huddled together without any plan, and
surrounded by old palisades; all filthy in the extreme, and
redolent of villainous smells.

At length they arrived at the council lodge. It was somewhat
spacious, and formed of four forked trunks of trees placed
upright, supporting cross-beams and a frame of poles interwoven
with osiers, and the whole covered with earth. A hole sunken in
the center formed the fireplace, and immediately above was a
circular hole in the apex of the lodge, to let out the smoke and
let in the daylight. Around the lodge were recesses for sleeping,
like the berths on board ships, screened from view by curtains of
dressed skins. At the upper end of the lodge was a kind of
hunting and warlike trophy, consisting of two buffalo heads
garishly painted, surmounted by shields, bows, quivers of arrows,
and other weapons.

On entering the lodge the chief pointed to mats or cushions which
had been placed around for the strangers, and on which they
seated themselves, while he placed himself on a kind of stool. An
old man then came forward with the pipe of peace or good-
fellowship, lighted and handed it to the chief, and then falling
back, squatted himself near the door. The pipe was passed from
mouth to mouth, each one taking a whiff, which is equivalent to
the inviolable pledge of faith, of taking salt together among the
ancient Britons. The chief then made a sign to the old pipe-
bearer, who seemed to fill, likewise, the station of herald,
seneschal, and public crier, for he ascended to the top of the
lodge to make proclamation. Here he took his post beside the
aperture for the emission of smoke and the admission of light;
the chief dictated from within what he was to proclaim, and he
bawled it forth with a force of lungs that resounded over all the
village. In this way he summoned the warriors and great men to
council; every now and then reporting progress to his chief
through the hole in the roof.

In a little while the braves and sages began to enter one by one,
as their names were called or announced, emerging from under the
buffalo robe suspended over the entrance instead of a door,
stalking across the lodge to the skins placed on the floor, and
crouching down on them in silence. In this way twenty entered and
took their seats, forming an assemblage worthy of the pencil: for
the Arickaras are a noble race of men, large and well formed, and
maintain a savage grandeur and gravity of demeanor in their
solemn ceremonials.

All being seated, the old seneschal prepared the pipe of ceremony
or council, and having lit it, handed it to the chief. He inhaled
the sacred smoke, gave a puff upward to the heaven, then downward
to the earth, then towards the east; after this it was as usual
passed from mouth to mouth, each holding it respectfully until
his neighbor had taken several whiffs; and now the grand council
was considered as opened in due form.

The chief made an harangue welcoming the white men to his
village, and expressing his happiness in taking them by the hand
as friends; but at the same time complaining of the poverty of
himself and his people; the usual prelude among Indians to
begging or hard bargaining.

Lisa rose to reply, and the eyes of Hunt and his companions were
eagerly turned upon him, those of M'Lellan glaring like a
basilisk's. He began by the usual expressions of friendship, and
then proceeded to explain the object of his own party. Those
persons, however, said he, pointing to Mr. Hunt and his
companions, are of a different party, and are quite distinct in
their views; but, added he, though we are separate parties, we
make but one common cause when the safety of either is concerned.
Any injury or insult offered to them I shall consider as done to
myself, and will resent it accordingly. I trust, therefore, that
you will treat them with the same friendship that you have always
manifested for me, doing everything in your power to serve them
and to help them on their way. The speech of Lisa, delivered with
an air of frankness and sincerity, agreeably surprised and
disappointed the rival party.

Mr. Hunt then spoke, declaring the object of his journey to the
great Salt Lake beyond the mountains, and that he should want
horses for the purpose, for which he was ready to trade, having
brought with him plenty of goods. Both he and Lisa concluded
their speeches by making presents of tobacco.

The left-handed chieftain in reply promised his friendship and
aid to the new comers, and welcomed them to his village. He added
that they had not the number of horses to spare that Mr. Hunt
required, and expressed a doubt whether they should be able to
part with any. Upon this, another chieftain, called Gray Eyes,
made a speech, and declared that they could readily supply Mr.
Hunt with all the horses he might want, since, if they had not
enough in the village, they could easily steal more. This honest
expedient immediately removed the main difficulty; but the chief
deferred all trading for a day or two; until he should have time
to consult with his subordinate chiefs as to market rates; for
the principal chief of a village, in conjunction with his
council, usually fixes the prices at which articles shall be
bought and sold, and to them the village must conform.

The council now broke up. Mr. Hunt transferred his camp across
the river at a little distance below the village, and the left-
handed chief placed some of his warriors as a guard to prevent
the intrusion of any of his people. The camp was pitched on the
river bank just above the boats. The tents, and the men wrapped
in their blankets and bivouacking on skins in the open air,
surrounded the baggage at night. Four sentinels also kept watch
within sight of each other outside of the camp until midnight,
when they were relieved by four others who mounted guard until
daylight. Mr. Lisa encamped near to Mr. Hunt, between him and the
village.

The speech of Mr. Lisa in the council had produced a pacific
effect in the encampment. Though the sincerity of his friendship
and good-will towards the new company still remained matter of
doubt, he was no longer suspected of an intention to play false.
The intercourse between the two leaders was therefore resumed,
and the affairs of both parties went on harmoniously.

CHAPTER XXI.

An Indian Horse Fair.- Love of the Indians for Horses- Scenes in
the Arickara Village.-Indian Hospitality.- Duties of Indian
Women. Game Habits of the Men.-Their Indolence.-Love of
Gossiping. - Rumors of Lurking Enemies.- Scouts.- An Alarm.-A
Sallying Forth. -Indian Dogs.-Return of a Horse-Stealing Party.-
An Indian Deputation.-Fresh Alarms.-Return of a Successful War
Party.-Dress of the Arickaras.- Indian Toilet.- Triumphal Entry
of the War Party. - Meetings of Relations and Friends.-Indian
Sensibility.- Meeting of a Wounded Warrior and His Mother.-
Festivities and Lamentations.

A TRADE now commenced with the Arickaras under the regulation and
supervision of their two chieftains. Lisa sent a part of his
goods to the lodge of the left-handed dignitary, and Mr. Hunt
established his mart in the lodge of the Big Man. The village
soon presented the appearance of a busy fair; and as horses were
in demand, the purlieus and the adjacent plain were like the
vicinity of a Tartar encampment; horses were put through all
their paces, and horsemen were careering about with that
dexterity and grace for which the Arickaras are noted. As soon as
a horse was purchased, his tail was cropped, a sure mode of
distinguishing him from the horses of the tribe; for the Indians
disdain to practice this absurd, barbarous, and indecent
mutilation, invented by some mean and vulgar mind, insensible to
the merit and perfections of the animal. On the contrary, the
Indian horses are suffered to remain in every respect the superb
and beautiful animals which nature formed them.

The wealth of an Indian of the far west consists principally in
his horses, of which each chief and warrior possesses a great
number, so that the plains about an Indian village or encampment
are covered with them. These form objects of traffic, or objects
of depredation, and in this way pass from tribe to tribe over
great tracts of country. The horses owned by the Arickaras are,
for the most part, of the wild stock of the prairies; some,
however, had been obtained from the Poncas, Pawnees, and other
tribes to the southwest, who had stolen them from the Spaniards
in the course of horse-stealing expeditions into Mexican
territories. These were to be known by being branded; a Spanish
mode of marking horses not practiced by the Indians.

As the Arickaras were meditating another expedition against their
enemies the Sioux, the articles of traffic most in demand were
guns, tomahawks, scalping-knives, powder, ball, and other
munitions of war. The price of a horse, as regulated by the
chiefs, was commonly ten dollars' worth of goods at first cost.
To supply the demand thus suddenly created, parties of young men
and braves had sallied forth on expeditions to steal horses; a
species of service among the Indians which takes precedence of
hunting, and is considered a department of honorable warfare.

While the leaders of the expedition were actively engaged in
preparing for the approaching journey, those who had accompanied
it for curiosity or amusement, found ample matter for observation
in the village and its inhabitants. Wherever they went they were
kindly entertained. If they entered a lodge, the buffalo robe was
spread before the fire for them to sit down; the pipe was
brought, and while the master of the lodge conversed with his
guests, the squaw put the earthen vessel over the fire well
filled with dried buffalo-meat and pounded corn; for the Indian
in his native state, before he has mingled much with white men,
and acquired their sordid habits, has the hospitality of the
Arab: never does a stranger enter his door without having food
placed before him; and never is the food thus furnished made a
matter of traffic.

The life of an Indian when at home in his village is a life of
indolence and amusement. To the woman is consigned the labors of
the household and the field; she arranges the lodge; brings wood
for the fire; cooks; jerks venison and buffalo meat; dresses the
skins of the animals killed in the chase; cultivates the little
patch of maize, pumpkins, and pulse, which furnishes a great part
of their provisions. Their time for repose and recreation is at
sunset, when the labors of the day being ended, they gather
together to amuse themselves with petty games, or to hold
gossiping convocations on the tops of their lodges.

As to the Indian, he is a game animal, not to be degraded by
useful or menial toil. It is enough that he exposes himself to
the hardships of the chase and the perils of war; that he brings
home food for his family, and watches and fights for its
protection. Everything else is beneath his attention. When at
home, he attends only to his weapons and his horses, preparing
the means of future exploit. Or he engages with his comrades in
games of dexterity, agility and strength; or in gambling games in
which everything is put at hazard with a recklessness seldom
witnessed in civilized life.

A great part of the idle leisure of the Indians when at home is
passed in groups, squatted together on the bank of a river, on
the top of a mound on the prairie, or on the roof of one of their
earth-covered lodges, talking over the news of the day, the
affairs of the tribe, the events and exploits of their last
hunting or fighting expedition; or listening to the stories of
old times told by some veteran chronicler; resembling a group of
our village quidnuncs and politicians, listening to the prosings
of some superannuated oracle, or discussing the contents of an
ancient newspaper.

As to the Indian women, they are far from complaining of their
lot. On the contrary, they would despise their husbands could
they stoop to any menial office, and would think it conveyed an
imputation upon their own conduct. It is the worst insult one
virago can cast upon another in a moment of altercation.
"Infamous woman!" will she cry, "I have seen your husband
carrying wood into his lodge to make the fire. Where was his
squaw, that he should be obliged to make a woman of himself! "

Mr. Hunt and his fellow-travellers had not been many days at the
Arickara village, when rumors began to circulate that the Sioux
had followed them up, and that a war party, four or five hundred
in number, were lurking somewhere in the neighborhood. These
rumors produced much embarrassment in the camp. The white hunters
were deterred from venturing forth in quest of game, neither did
the leaders think it proper to expose them to such a risk. The
Arickaras, too, who had suffered greatly in their wars with this
cruel and ferocious tribe, were roused to increased vigilance,
and stationed mounted scouts upon the neighboring hills. This,
however, is a general precaution among the tribes of the
prairies. Those immense plains present a horizon like the ocean,
so that any object of importance can be descried afar, and
information communicated to a great distance. The scouts are
stationed on the hills, therefore, to look out both for game and
for enemies, and are, in a manner, living telegraphs conveying
their intelligence by concerted signs. If they wish to give
notice of a herd of buffalo in the plain beyond, they gallop
backwards and forwards abreast, on the summit of the hill. If
they perceive an enemy at hand, they gallop to and fro, crossing
each other; at sight of which the whole village flies to arms.

Such an alarm was given in the afternoon of the 15th. Four scouts
were seen crossing and recrossing each other at full gallop, on
the summit of a hill about two miles distant down the river. The
cry was up that the Sioux were coming. In an instant the village
was in an uproar. Men, women, and children were all brawling and
shouting; dogs barking, yelping, and howling. Some of the
warriors ran for the horses to gather and drive them in from the
prairie, some for their weapons. As fast as they could arm and
equip they sallied forth; some on horseback, some on foot. Some
hastily arrayed in their war dress, with coronets of fluttering
feathers, and their bodies smeared with paint; others naked and
only furnished with the weapons they had snatched up. The women
and children gathered on the tops of the lodges and heightened
the confusion of the scene by their vociferation. Old men who
could no longer bear arms took similar stations, and harangued
the warriors as they passed, exhorting them to valorous deeds.
Some of the veterans took arms themselves, and sallied forth with
tottering steps. In this way, the savage chivalry of the village
to the number of five hundred, poured forth, helter-skelter,
riding and running, with hideous yells and war-whoops, like so
many bedlamites or demoniacs let loose.

After a while the tide of war rolled back, but with far less
uproar. Either it had been a false alarm, or the enemy had
retreated on finding themselves discovered, and quiet was
restored to the village. The white hunters continuing to be
fearful of ranging this dangerous neighborhood, fresh provisions
began to be scarce in the camp. As a substitute, therefore, for
venison and buffalo meat, the travellers had to purchase a number
of dogs to be shot and cooked for the supply of the camp.
Fortunately, however chary the Indians might be of their horses,
they were liberal of their dogs. In fact, these animals swarm
about an Indian village as they do about a Turkish town. Not a
family but has two or three dozen belonging to it, of all sizes
and colors; some of a superior breed are used for hunting;
others, to draw the sledge, while others, of a mongrel breed, and
idle vagabond nature, are fattened for food. They are supposed to
be descendant from the wolf, and retain something of his savage
but cowardly temper, howling rather than barking; showing their
teeth and snarling on the slightest provocation, but sneaking
away on the least attack.

The excitement of the village continued from day to day. On the
day following the alarm just mentioned, several parties arrived
from different directions, and were met and conducted by some of
the braves to the council lodge, where they reported the events
and success of their expeditions, whether of war or hunting;
which news was afterwards promulgated throughout the village, by
certain old men who acted as heralds or town criers. Among the
parties which arrived was one that had been among the Snake
nation stealing horses, and returned crowned with success. As
they passed in triumph through the village they were cheered by
the men, women, and children, collected as usual on the tops of
the lodges, and were exhorted by the Nesters of the village to be
generous in their dealings with the white men.

The evening was spent in feasting and rejoicing among the
relations of the successful warriors; but the sounds of grief and
wailing were heard from the hills adjacent to the village -the
lamentations of women who had lost some relative in the foray.

An Indian village is subject to continual agitations and
excitements. The next day arrived a deputation of braves from the
Cheyenne or Shienne nation; a broken tribe, cut up, like the
Arickaras, by wars with the Sioux, and driven to take refuge
among the Black Hills, near the sources of the Cheyenne River,
from which they derive their name. One of these deputies was
magnificently arrayed in a buffalo robe, on which various figures
were fancifully embroidered with split quills dyed red and
yellow; and the whole was fringed with the slender hoofs of young
fawns, that rattled as he walked.

The arrival of this deputation was the signal for another of
those ceremonials which occupy so much of Indian life; for no
being is more courtly and punctilious, and more observing of
etiquette and formality than an American savage.

The object of the deputation was to give notice of an intended
visit of the Shienne (or Cheyenne) tribe to the Arickara village
in the course of fifteen days. To this visit Mr. Hunt looked
forward to procure additional horses for his journey; all his
bargaining being ineffectual in obtaining a sufficient supply
from the Arickaras. Indeed, nothing could prevail upon the latter
to part with their prime horses, which had been trained to
buffalo hunting.

As Mr. Hunt would have to abandon his boats at this place, Mr.
Lisa now offered to purchase them, and such of his merchandise as
was superfluous, and to pay him in horses to be obtained at a
fort belonging to the Missouri Fur Company, situated at the
Mandan villages, about a hundred and fifty miles further up the
river. A bargain was promptly made, and Mr. Lisa and Mr. Crooks,
with several companions, set out for the fort to procure the
horses. They returned, after upwards of a fortnight's absence,
bringing with them the stipulated number of horses. Still the
cavalry was not sufficiently numerous to convey the party and
baggage and merchandise, and a few days more were required to
complete the arrangements for the journey.

On the 9th of July, just before daybreak, a great noise and
vociferation was heard in the village. This being the usual
Indian hour of attack and surprise, and the Sioux being known to
be in the neighborhood, the camp was instantly on the alert. As
the day broke Indians were descried in considerable number on the
bluffs, three or four miles down the river. The noise and
agitation in the village continued. The tops of the lodges were
crowded with the inhabitants, all earnestly looking towards the
hills, and keeping up a vehement chattering. Presently an Indian
warrior galloped past the camp towards the village, and in a
little while the legions began to pour forth.

The truth of the matter was now ascertained. The Indians upon the
distant hills were three hundred Arickara braves, returning home
from a foray. They had met the war party of Sioux who had been so
long hovering about the neighborhood, had fought them the day
before, killed several, and defeated the rest with the loss of
but two or three of their own men and about a dozen wounded; and
they were now halting at a distance until their comrades in the
village should come forth to meet them, and swell the parade of
their triumphal entry. The warrior who had galloped past the camp
was the leader of the party hastening home to give tidings of his
victory.

Preparations were now made for this great martial ceremony. All
the finery and equipments of the warriors were sent forth to
them, that they might appear to the greatest advantage. Those,
too, who had remained at home, tasked their wardrobes and toilets
to do honor to the procession.

The Arickaras generally go naked, but, like all savages, they
have their gala dress, of which they are not a little vain. This
usually consists of a gray surcoat and leggins of the dressed
skin of the antelope, resembling chamois leather, and embroidered
with porcupine quills brilliantly dyed. A buffalo robe is thrown
over the right shoulder, and across the left is slung a quiver of
arrows. They wear gay coronets of plumes, particularly those of
the swan; but the feathers of the black eagle are considered the
most worthy, being a sacred bird among the Indian warriors.

He who has killed an enemy in his own land, is entitled to drag
at his heels a fox-skin attached to each moccasin; and he who has
slain a grizzly bear, wears a necklace of his claws, the most
glorious trophy that a hunter can exhibit.

An Indian toilet is an operation of some toil and trouble; the
warrior often has to paint himself from head to foot, and is
extremely capricious and difficult to please, as to the hideous
distribution of streaks and colors. A great part of the morning,
therefore, passed away before there were any signs of the distant
pageant. In the meantime a profound stillness reigned over the
village. Most of the inhabitants had gone forth; others remained
in mute expectation. All sports and occupations were suspended,
excepting that in the lodges the painstaking squaws were silently
busied in preparing the repasts for the warriors.

It was near noon that a mingled sound of voices and rude music,
faintly heard from a distance, gave notice that the procession
was on the march. The old men and such of the squaws as could
leave their employments hastened forth to meet it. In a little
while it emerged from behind a hill, and had a wild and
picturesque appearance as it came moving over the summit in
measured step, and to the cadence of songs and savage
instruments; the warlike standards and trophies flaunting aloft,
and the feathers, and paint, and silver ornaments of the warriors
glaring and glittering in the sunshine.

The pageant had really something chivalrous in its arrangement.
The Arickaras are divided into several bands, each bearing the
name of some animal or bird, as the buffalo, the bear, the dog,
the pheasant. The present party consisted of four of these bands,
one of which was the dog, the most esteemed in war, being
composed of young men under thirty, and noted for prowess. It is
engaged in the most desperate occasions. The bands marched in
separate bodies under their several leaders. The warriors on foot
came first, in platoons of ten or twelve abreast; then the
horsemen. Each band bore as an ensign a spear or bow decorated
with beads, porcupine quills, and painted feathers. Each bore its
trophies of scalps, elevated on poles, their long black locks
streaming in the wind. Each was accompanied by its rude music and
minstrelsy . In this way the procession extended nearly a quarter
of a mile. The warriors were variously armed, some few with guns,
others with bows and arrows, and war clubs; all had shields of
buffalo hide, a kind of defense generally used by the Indians of
the open prairies, who have not the covert of trees and forests
to protect them. They were painted in the most savage style. Some
had the stamp of a red hand across their mouths, a sign that they
had drunk the life-blood of a foe!

As they drew near to the village the old men and the women began
to meet them, and now a scene ensued that proved the fallacy of
the old fable of Indian apathy and stoicism. Parents and
children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters met with the
most rapturous expressions of joy; while wailings and
lamentations were heard from the relatives of the killed and
wounded. The procession, however, continued on with slow and
measured step, in cadence to the solemn chant, and the warriors
maintained their fixed and stern demeanor.

Between two of the principal chiefs rode a young warrior who had
distinguished himself in the battle. He was severely wounded, so
as with difficulty to keep on his horse; but he preserved a
serene and steadfast countenance, as if perfectly unharmed. His
mother had heard of his condition. She broke through the throng,
and rushing up, threw her arms around him and wept aloud. He kept
up the spirit and demeanor of a warrior to the last, but expired
shortly after he had reached his home.

The village was now a scene of the utmost festivity and triumph.
The banners, and trophies, and scalps, and painted shields were
elevated on poles near the lodges. There were warfeasts, and
scalp-dances, with warlike songs and savage music; all the
inhabitants were arrayed in their festal dresses; while the old
heralds went round from lodge to lodge, promulgating with loud
voices the events of the battle and the exploits of the various
warriors.

Such was the boisterous revelry of the village; but sounds of
another kind were heard on the surrounding hills; piteous
wailings of the women, who had retired thither to mourn in
darkness and solitude for those who had fallen in battle. There
the poor mother of the youthful warrior who had returned home in
triumph but to die, gave full vent to the anguish of a mother's
heart. How much does this custom among the Indian woman of
repairing to the hilltops in the night, and pouring forth their
wailings for the dead, call to mind the beautiful and affecting
passage of Scripture, "In Rama was there a voice heard,
lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for
her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. "

CHAPTER XXII.

Wilderness of the Far West.- Great American Desert- Parched
Seasons. -Black Hills.- Rocky Mountains.- Wandering and Predatory
Hordes. -Speculations on What May Be the Future Population.-
Apprehended Dangers.-A Plot to Desert.-Rose the Interpreter.- His
Sinister Character- Departure From the Arickara Village.

WHILE Mr. Hunt was diligently preparing for his arduous journey,
some of his men began to lose heart at the perilous prospect
before them; but before we accuse them of want of spirit, it is
proper to consider the nature of the wilderness into which they
were about to adventure. It was a region almost as vast and
trackless as the ocean, and, at the time of which we treat, but
little known, excepting through the vague accounts of Indian
hunters. A part of their route would lay across an immense tract,
stretching north and south for hundreds of miles along the foot
of the Rocky Mountains, and drained by the tributary streams of
the Missouri and the Mississippi. This region, which resembles
one of the immeasurable steppes of Asia, has not inaptly been
termed "the great American desert." It spreads forth into
undulating and treeless plains, and desolate sandy wastes
wearisome to the eye from their extent and monotony, and which
are supposed by geologists to have formed the ancient floor of
the ocean, countless ages since, when its primeval waves beat
against the granite bases of the Rocky Mountains.

It is a land where no man permanently abides; for, in certain
seasons of the year there is no food either for the hunter or his
steed. The herbage is parched and withered; the brooks and
streams are dried up; the buffalo, the elk and the deer have
wandered to distant parts, keeping within the verge of expiring
verdure, and leaving behind them a vast uninhabited solitude,
seamed by ravines, the beds of former torrents, but now serving
only to tantalize and increase the thirst of the traveller.

Occasionally the monotony of this vast wilderness is interrupted
by mountainous belts of sand and limestone, broken into confused
masses; with precipitous cliffs and yawning ravines, looking like
the ruins of a world; or is traversed by lofty and barren ridges
of rock, almost impassable, like those denominated the Black
Hills. Beyond these rise the stern barriers of the Rocky
Mountains, the limits, as it were, of the Atlantic world. The
rugged defiles and deep valleys of this vast chain form
sheltering places for restless and ferocious bands of savages,
many of them the remnants of tribes, once inhabitants of the
prairies, but broken up by war and violence, and who carry into
their mountain haunts the fierce passions and reckless habits of
desperadoes.

Such is the nature of this immense wilderness of the far West;
which apparently defies cultivation, and the habitation of
civilized life. Some portions of it along the rivers may
partially be subdued by agriculture, others may form vast
pastoral tracts, like those of the East; but it is to be feared
that a great part of it will form a lawless interval between the
abodes of civilized man, like the wastes of the ocean or the
deserts of Arabia; and, like them, be subject to the depredations
of the marauder. Here may spring up new and mongrel races, like
new formations in geology, the amalgamation of the "debris" and
"abrasions" of former races, civilized and savage; the remains of
broken and almost extinguished tribes; the descendants of
wandering hunters and trappers; of fugitives from the Spanish and
American frontiers; of adventurers and desperadoes of every class
and country, yearly ejected from the bosom of society into the
wilderness. We are contributing incessantly to swell this
singular and heterogeneous cloud of wild population that is to
hang about our frontier, by the transfer of whole tribes from the
east of the Mississippi to the great wastes of the far West. Many
of these bear with them the smart of real or fancied injuries;
many consider themselves expatriated beings, wrongfully exiled
from their hereditary homes, and the sepulchres of their fathers,
and cherish a deep and abiding animosity against the race that
has dispossessed them. Some may gradually become pastoral hordes,
like those rude and migratory people, half shepherd, half
warrior, who, with their flocks and herds, roam the plains of
upper Asia; but others, it is to be apprehended, will become
predatory bands, mounted on the fleet steeds of the prairies,
with the open plains for their marauding grounds, and the
mountains for their retreats and lurking-places. Here they may
resemble those great hordes of the North, "Gog and Magog with
their bands," that haunted the gloomy imaginations of the
prophets. "A great company and a mighty host, all riding upon
horses, and warring upon those nations which were at rest, and
dwelt peaceably, and had gotten cattle and goods."

The Spaniards changed the whole character and habits of the
Indians when they brought the horse among them. In Chili,
Tucuman, and other parts, it has converted them, we are told,
into Tartar-like tribes, and enabled them to keep the Spaniards
out of their country, and even to make it dangerous for them to
venture far from their towns and settlements. Are we not in
danger of producing some such state of things in the boundless
regions of the far West? That these are not mere fanciful and
extravagant suggestions we have sufficient proofs in the dangers
already experienced by the traders to the Spanish mart of Santa
Fe, and to the distant posts of the fur companies. These are
obliged to proceed in armed caravans, and are subject to
murderous attacks from bands of Pawnees, Camanches, and
Blackfeet, that come scouring upon them in their weary march
across the plains, or lie in wait for them among the passes of
the mountains.

We are wandering, however, into excursive speculations, when our
intention was merely to give an idea of the nature of the
wilderness which Mr. Hunt was about to traverse; and which at
that time was far less known than at present; though it still
remains in a great measure an unknown land. We cannot be
surprised, therefore, that some of the resolute of his party
should feel dismay at the thoughts of adventuring into this
perilous wilderness under the uncertain guidance of three
hunters, who had merely passed once through the country and might
have forgotten the landmarks. Their apprehensions were aggravated
by some of Lisa's followers, who, not being engaged in the
expedition, took a mischievous pleasure in exaggerating its
dangers. They painted in strong colors, to the poor Canadian
voyageurs, the risk they would run of perishing with hunger and
thirst; of being cut off by war-parties of the Sioux who scoured
the plains; of having their horses stolen by the Upsarokas or
Crows, who infested the skirts of the Rocky Mountains; or of
being butchered by the Blackfeet, who lurked among the defiles.
In a word, there was little chance of their getting alive across
the mountains; and even if they did, those three guides knew
nothing of the howling wilderness that lay beyond.

The apprehensions thus awakened in the minds of some of the men
came well-nigh proving detrimental to the expedition. Some of
them determined to desert, and to make their way back to St.
Louis. They accordingly purloined several weapons and a barrel of
gunpowder, as ammunition for their enterprise, and buried them in
the river bank, intending to seize one of the boats, and make off
in the night. Fortunately their plot was overheard by John Day,
the Kentuckian, and communicated to the partners, who took quiet
and effectual means to frustrate it.

The dangers to be apprehended from the Crow Indians had not been
overrated by the camp gossips. These savages, through whose
mountain haunts the party would have to pass, were noted for
daring and excursive habits, and great dexterity in horse
stealing. Mr. Hunt, therefore, considered himself fortunate in
having met with a man who might be of great use to him in any
intercourse he might have with the tribe. This was a wandering
individual named Edward Rose, whom he had picked up somewhere on
the Missouri - one of those anomalous beings found on the
frontier, who seem to have neither kin nor country. He had lived
some time among the Crows, so as to become acquainted with their
language and customs; and was, withal, a dogged, sullen, silent
fellow, with a sinister aspect, and more of the savage than the
civilized man in his appearance. He was engaged to serve in
general as a hunter, but as guide and interpreter when they
should reach the country of the Crows.

On the 18th of July, Mr. Hunt took up his line of march by land
from the Arickara village, leaving Mr. Lisa and Mr. Nuttall
there, where they intended to await the expected arrival of Mr.
Henry from the Rocky Mountains. As to Messrs. Bradbury and
Breckenridge, they had departed some days previously, on a voyage
down the river to St. Louis, with a detachment from Mr. Lisa's
party. With all his exertions, Mr. Hunt had been unable to obtain
a sufficient number of horses for the accommodation of all his
people. His cavalcade consisted of eighty-two horses, most of
them heavily laden with Indian goods, beaver traps, ammunition,
Indian corn, corn meal and other necessaries. Each of the
partners was mounted, and a horse was allotted to the
interpreter, Pierre Dorion, for the transportation of his luggage
and his two children. His squaw, for the most part of the time,
trudged on foot, like the residue of the party; nor did any of
the men show more patience and fortitude than this resolute woman
in enduring fatigue and hardship.

The veteran trappers and voyageurs of Lisa's party shook their
heads as their comrades set out, and took leave of them as of
doomed men; and even Lisa himself gave it as his opinion, after
the travellers had departed, they would never reach the shores of
the Pacific, but would either perish with hunger in the
wilderness, or be cut off by the savages.

CHAPTER XXIII.

Summer Weather of the Prairies.- Purity of the Atmosphere-
Canadians on the March.- Sickness in the Camp.- Big River.-
Vulgar Nomenclature.- Suggestions About the Original Indian
Names.- Camp of Cheyennes.- Trade for Horses.- Character of the
Cheyennes.- Their Horsemanship.- Historical Anecdotes of the
Tribe.

THE course taken by Mr. Hunt was at first to the northwest, but
soon turned and kept generally to the southwest, to avoid the
country infested by the Blackfeet. His route took him across some
of the tributary streams of the Missouri, and over immense
prairies, bounded only by the horizon, and destitute of trees. It
was now the height of summer, and these naked plains would be
intolerable to the traveller were it not for the breezes which
swept over them during the fervor of the day, bringing with them
tempering airs from the distant mountains. To the prevalence of
these breezes, and to the want of all leafy covert, may we also
attribute the freedom from those flies and other insects so
tormenting to man and beast during the summer months, in the
lower plains, which are bordered and interspersed with woodland.

The monotony of these immense landscapes, also, would be as
wearisome as that of the ocean, were it not relieved in some
degree by the purity and elasticity of the atmosphere, and the
beauty of the heavens. The sky has that delicious blue for which
the sky of Italy is renowned; the sun shines with a splendor
unobscured by any cloud or vapor, and a starlight night on the
prairies is glorious. This purity and elasticity of atmosphere
increases as the traveller approaches the mountains and gradually
rises into more elevated prairies.

On the second day of the journey, Mr. Hunt arranged the party
into small and convenient messes, distributing among them the
camp kettles. The encampments at night were as before; some
sleeping under tents, and others bivouacking in the open air. The
Canadians proved as patient of toll and hardship on the land as
on the water; indeed, nothing could surpass the patience and
good-humor of these men upon the march. They were the cheerful
drudges of the party, loading and unloading the horses, pitching
the tents, making the fires, cooking; in short, performing all
those household and menial offices which the Indians usually
assign to the squaws; and, like the squaws, they left all the
hunting and fighting to others. A Canadian has but little
affection for the exercise of the rifle.

The progress of the party was but slow for the first few days.
Some of the men were indisposed; Mr. Crooks, especially, was so
unwell that he could not keep on his horse. A rude kind of litter
was, therefore, prepared for him, consisting of two long poles,
fixed, one on each side of two horses, with a matting between
them, on which he reclined at full length, and was protected from
the sun by a canopy of boughs.

On the evening of the 23d (July) they encamped on the banks of
what they term Big River; and here we cannot but pause to lament
the stupid, commonplace, and often ribald names entailed upon the
rivers and other features of the great West, by traders and
settlers. As the aboriginal tribes of these magnificent regions
are yet in existence, the Indian names might easily be recovered;
which, besides being in general more sonorous and musical, would
remain mementoes of the primitive lords of the soil, of whom in a
little while scarce any traces will be left. Indeed, it is to be
wished that the whole of our country could be rescued, as much as
possible, from the wretched nomenclature inflicted upon it, by
ignorant and vulgar minds; and thismight be done, in a great
degree, by restoring the Indian names, wherever significant and
euphonious. As there appears to be a spirit of research abroad in
respect to our aboriginal antiquities, we would suggest, as a
worthy object of enterprise, a map, or maps, of every part of our
country, giving the Indian names wherever they could be
ascertained. Whoever achieves such an object worthily, will leave
a monument to his own reputation.

To return from this digression. As the travellers were now in a
country abounding with buffalo, they remained for several days
encamped upon the banks of Big River, to obtain a supply of
provisions, and to give the invalids time to recruit.

On the second day of their sojourn, as Ben Jones, John Day, and
others of the hunters were in pursuit of game, they came upon an
Indian camp on the open prairie, near to a small stream which ran
through a ravine. The tents or lodges were of dressed buffalo
skins, sewn together and stretched on tapering pine poles, joined
at top, but radiating at bottom, so as to form a circle capable
of admitting fifty persons. Numbers of horses were grazing in the
neighborhood of the camp, or straying at large in the prairie; a
sight most acceptable to the hunters. After reconnoitering the
camp for some time, they ascertained it to belong to a band of
Cheyenne Indians, the same that had sent a deputation to the
Arickaras. They received the hunters in the most friendly manner;
invited them to their lodges, which were more cleanly than Indian
lodges are prone to be, and set food before them with true
uncivilized hospitality. Several of them accompanied the hunters
back to the camp, when a trade was immediately opened. The
Cheyennes were astonished and delighted to find a convoy of goods
and trinkets thus brought into the very heart of the prairie;
while Mr. Hunt and his companions were overjoyed to have an
opportunity of obtaining a further supply of horses from these
equestrian savages.

During a fortnight that the travellers lingered at this place,
their encampment was continually thronged by the Cheyennes. They
were a civil, well-behaved people, cleanly in their persons, and
decorous in their habits. The men were tall, straight and
vigorous, with aquiline noses, and high cheek bones. Some were
almost as naked as ancient statues, and might have stood as
models for a statuary; others had leggins and moccasins of deer
skin, and buffalo robes, which they threw gracefully over their
shoulders. In a little while, however, they began to appear in
more gorgeous array, tricked out in the finery obtained from the
white men; bright cloths, brass rings, beads of various colors;
and happy was he who could render himself hideous with vermilion.

The travellers had frequent occasions to admire the skill and
grace with which these Indians managed their horses. Some of them
made a striking display when mounted; themselves and their steeds
decorated in gala style; for the Indians often bestow more finery
upon their horses than upon themselves. Some would hang around
the necks, or rather on the breasts of their horses, the most
precious ornaments they had obtained from the white men; others
interwove feathers in their manes and tails. The Indian horses,
too, appear to have an attachment to their wild riders, and
indeed, it is said that the horses of the prairies readily
distinguish an Indian from a white man by the smell, and give a
preference to the former. Yet the Indians, in general, are hard
riders, and, however they may value their horses, treat them with
great roughness and neglect. Occasionally the Cheyennes joined
the white hunters in pursuit of the elk and buffalo; and when in
the ardor of the chase, spared neither themselves nor their
steeds, scouring the prairies at full speed, and plunging down
precipices and frightful ravines that threatened the necks of
both horse and horseman. The Indian steed, well trained to the
chase, seems as mad as the rider, and pursues the game as eagerly
as if it were his natural prey, on the flesh of which he was to
banquet.

The history of the Cheyennes is that of many of those wandering
tribes of the prairies. They were the remnant of a once powerful
people called the Shaways, inhabiting a branch of the Red River
which flows into Lake Winnipeg. Every Indian tribe has some rival
tribe with which it wages implacable hostility. The deadly
enemies of the Shaways were the Sioux, who, after a long course
of warfare, proved too powerful for them, and drove them across
the Missouri. They again took root near the Warricanne Creek, and
established themselves there in a fortified village.

The Sioux still followed with deadly animosity ; dislodged them
from their village, and compelled them to take refuge in the
Black Hills, near the upper waters of the Sheyenne or Cheyenne
River. Here they lost even their name, and became known among the
French colonists by that of the river they frequented.

The heart of the tribe was now broken; its numbers were greatly
thinned by their harassing wars. They no longer attempted to
establish themselves in any permanent abode that might be an
object of attack to their cruel foes. They gave up the
cultivation of the fruits of the earth, and became a wandering
tribe, subsisting by the chase, and following the buffalo in its
migrations.

Their only possessions were horses, which they caught on the
prairies, or reared, or captured on predatory incursions into the
Mexican territories, as has already been mentioned. With some of
these they repaired once a year to the Arickara villages,
exchanged them for corn, beans, pumpkins, and articles of
European merchandise, and then returned into the heart of the
prairies.

Such are the fluctuating fortunes of these savage nations. War,
famine, pestilence, together or singly, bring down their strength
and thin their numbers. Whole tribes are rooted up from their
native places, wander for a time about these immense regions,
become amalgamated with other tribes, or disappear from the face
of the earth. There appears to be a tendency to extinction among
all the savage nations; and this tendency would seem to have been
in operation among the aboriginals of this country long before
the advent of the white men, if we may judge from the traces and
traditions of ancient populousness in regions which were silent
and deserted at the time of the discovery; and from the
mysterious and perplexing vestiges of unknown races, predecessors
of those found in actual possession, and who must long since have
become gradually extinguished or been destroyed. The whole
history of the aboriginal population of this country, however, is
an enigma, and a grand one - will it ever be solved?

CHAPTER XXIV.

New Distribution of Horses- Secret Information of Treason in the
Camp.- Rose the Interpreter- His Perfidious Character- His Plots.
-Anecdotes of the Crow Indians.- Notorious Horse Stealers.- Some
Account of Rose.- A Desperado of the Frontier.

0N the sixth of August the travellers bade farewell to the
friendly band of Cheyennes, and resumed their journey. As they
had obtained thirty-six additional horses by their recent
traffic, Mr. Hunt made a new arrangement. The baggage was made up
in smaller loads. A horse was allotted to each of the six prime
hunters, and others were distributed among the voyageurs, a horse
for every two, so that they could ride and walk alternately. Mr.
Crooks being still too feeble to mount the saddle, was carried on
a litter.

Their march this day lay among singular hills and knolls of an
indurated red earth, resembling brick, about the bases of which
were scattered pumice stones and cinders, the whole bearing
traces of the action of fire. In the evening they encamped on a
branch of Big River.

They were now out of the tract of country infested by the Sioux,
and had advanced such a distance into the interior that Mr. Hunt
no longer felt apprehensive of the desertion of any of his men.
He was doomed, however, to experience new cause of anxiety. As he
was seated in his tent after nightfall, one of the men came to
him privately, and informed him that there was mischief brewing
in the camp. Edward Rose, the interpreter, whose sinister looks
we have already mentioned, was denounced by this secret informer
as a designing, treacherous scoundrel, who was tampering with the
fidelity of certain of the men, and instigating them to a
flagrant piece of treason. In the course of a few days they would
arrive at the mountainous district infested by the Upsarokas or
Crows, the tribe among which Rose was to officiate as
interpreter. His plan was that several of the men should join
with him, when in that neighborhood, in carrying off a number of
the horses with their packages of goods, and deserting to those
savages. He assured them of good treatment among the Crows, the
principal chiefs and warriors of whom he knew; they would soon
become great men among them, and have the finest women, and the
daughters of the chiefs for wives; and the horses and goods they
carried off would make them rich for life.

The intelligence of this treachery on the part of Rose gave much
disquiet to Mr. Hunt, for he knew not how far it might be
effective among his men. He had already had proofs that several
of them were disaffected to the enterprise, and loath to cross
the mountains. He knew also that savage life had charms for many
of them, especially the Canadians, who were prone to intermarry
and domesticate themselves among the Indians.

And here a word or two concerning the Crows may be of service to
the reader, as they will figure occasionally in the succeeding
narration.

The tribe consists of four bands, which have their nestling-
places in fertile, well-wooded valleys, lying among the Rocky
Mountains, and watered by the Big Horse River and its tributary
streams; but, though these are properly their homes, where they
shelter their old people, their wives, and their children, the
men of the tribe are almost continually on the foray and the
scamper. They are, in fact, notorious marauders and horse-
stealers; crossing and re-crossing the mountains, robbing on the
one side, and conveying their spoils to the other. Hence, we are
told, is derived their name, given to them on account of their
unsettled and predatory habits; winging their flight, like the
crows, from one side of the mountains to the other, and making
free booty of everything that lies in their way. Horses, however,
are the especial objects of their depredations, and their skill
and audacity in stealing them are said to be astonishing. This is
their glory and delight; an accomplished horse-stealer fills up
their idea of a hero. Many horses are obtained by them, also, in
barter from tribes in and beyond the mountains. They have an
absolute passion for this noble animal; besides which he is with
them an important object of traffic. Once a year they make a
visit to the Mandans, Minatarees, and other tribes of the
Missouri, taking with them droves of horses which they exchange
for guns, ammunition, trinkets, vermilion, cloths of bright
colors, and various other articles of European manufacture. With
these they supply their own wants and caprices, and carry on the
internal trade for horses already mentioned.

The plot of Rose to rob and abandon his countrymen when in the
heart of the wilderness, and to throw himself into the hands of
savages, may appear strange and improbable to those unacquainted
with the singular and anomalous characters that are to be found
about the borders. This fellow, it appears, was one of those
desperadoes of the frontiers, outlawed by their crimes, who
combine the vices of civilized and savage life, and are ten times
more barbarous than the Indians with whom they consort. Rose had
formerly belonged to one of the gangs of pirates who infested the
islands of the Mississippi, plundering boats as they went up and
down the river, and who sometimes shifted the scene of their
robberies to the shore, waylaying travellers as they returned by
land from New Orleans with the proceeds of their downward voyage,
plundering them of their money and effects, and often
perpetrating the most atrocious murders.

These hordes of villains being broken up and dispersed, Rose had
betaken himself to the wilderness, and associated himself with
the Crows, whose predatory habits were congenial with his own,
had married a woman of the tribe, and, in short, had identified
himself with those vagrant savages.

Such was the worthy guide and interpreter, Edward Rose. We give
his story, however, not as it was known to Mr. Hunt and his
companions at the time, but as it has been subsequently
ascertained. Enough was known of the fellow and his dark and
perfidious character to put Mr. Hunt upon his guard: still, as
there was no knowing how far his plans might have succeeded, and
as any rash act might blow the mere smouldering sparks of treason
into a sudden blaze, it was thought advisable by those with whom
Mr. Hunt consulted, to conceal all knowledge or suspicion of the
meditated treachery, but to keep up a vigilant watch upon the
movements of Rose, and a strict guard upon the horses at night.

CHAPTER XXV.

Substitute for Fuel on the Prairies.- Fossil Trees.- Fierceness
of the Buffaloes When in Heat.- Three Hunters Missing.- Signal
Fires and Smokes.- Uneasiness Concerning the Lost Men.- A Plan to
Forestall a Rogue.- New Arrangement With Rose.- Return of the
Wanderers.

THE plains over which the travellers were journeying continued to
be destitute of trees or even shrubs; insomuch that they had to
use the dung of the buffalo for fuel, as the Arabs of the desert
use that of the camel. This substitute for fuel is universal
among the Indians of these upper prairies, and is said to make a
fire equal to that of turf. If a few chips are added, it throws
out a cheerful and kindly blaze.

These plains, however, had not always been equally destitute of
wood, as was evident from the trunks of the trees which the
travellers repeatedly met with, some still standing, others lying
about in broken fragments, but all in a fossil state, having
flourished in times long past. In these singular remains, the
original grain of the wood was still so distinct that they could
be ascertained to be the ruins of oak trees. Several pieces of
the fossil wood were selected by the men to serve as whetstones.

In this part of the journey there was no lack of provisions, for
the prairies were covered with immense herds of buffalo. These,
in general, are animals of peaceful demeanor, grazing quietly
like domestic cattle; but this was the season when they are in
heat, and when the bulls are usually fierce and pugnacious. There
was accordingly a universal restlessness and commotion throughout
the plain; and the amorous herds gave utterance to their feelings
in low bellowings that resounded like distant thunder. Here and
there fierce duellos took place between rival enamorados; butting
their huge shagged fronts together, goring each other with their
short black horns, and tearing up the earth with their feet in
perfect fury.

In one of the evening halts, Pierre Dorion, the interpreter,
together with Carson and Gardpie, two of the hunters, were
missing, nor had they returned by morning. As it was supposed
they had wandered away in pursuit of buffalo, and would readily
find the track of the party, no solicitude was felt on their
account. A fire was left burning, to guide them by its column of
smoke, and the travellers proceeded on their march. In the
evening a signal fire was made on a hill adjacent to the camp,
and in the morning it was replenished with fuel so as to last
throughout the day. These signals are usual among the Indians, to
give warnings to each other, or to call home straggling hunters;
and such is the transparency of the atmosphere in those elevated
plains, that a slight column of smoke can be discerned from a
great distance, particularly in the evenings. Two or three days
elapsed, however, without the reappearance of the three hunters;
and Mr. Hunt slackened his march to give them time to overtake
him.

A vigilant watch continued to be kept upon the movements of Rose,
and of such of the men as were considered doubtful in their
loyalty; but nothing occurred to excite immediate apprehensions.
Rose evidently was not a favorite among his comrades, and it was
hoped that he had not been able to make any real partisans.

On the 10th of August they encamped among hills, on the highest
peak of which Mr. Hunt caused a huge pyre of pine wood to be
made, which soon sent up a great column of flame that might be
seen far and wide over the prairies. This fire blazed all night,
and was amply replenished at daybreak; so that the towering
pillar of smoke could not but be descried by the wanderers if
within the distance of a day's journey.

It is a common occurrence in these regions, where the features of
the country so much resemble each other, for hunters to lose
themselves and wander for many days, before they can find their
way back to the main body of their party. In the present
instance, however, a more than common solicitude was felt, in
consequence of the distrust awakened by the sinister designs of
Rose.

The route now became excessively toilsome, over a ridge of steep
rocky hills, covered with loose stones. These were intersected by
deep valleys, formed by two branches of Big River, coming from
the south of west, both of which they crossed. These streams were
bordered by meadows, well stocked with buffaloes. Loads of meat
were brought in by the hunters; but the travellers were rendered
dainty by profusion, and would cook only the choice pieces.

They had now travelled for several days at a very slow rate, and
had made signal-fires and left traces of their route at every
stage, yet nothing was heard or seen of the lost men. It began to
be feared that they might have fallen into the hands of some
lurking band of savages. A party numerous as that of Mr. Hunt,
with a long train of pack horses, moving across plains or naked
hills, is discoverable at a great distance by Indian scouts, who
spread the intelligence rapidly to various points, and assemble
their friends to hang about the skirts of the travellers, steal
their horses, or cut off any stragglers from the main body.

Mr. Hunt and his companions were more and more sensible how much
it would be in the power of this sullen and daring vagabond Rose,
to do them mischief, when they should become entangled in the
defiles of the mountains, with the passes of which they were
wholly unacquainted, and which were infested by his freebooting
friends, the Crows. There, should he succeed in seducing some of
the party into his plans, he might carry off the best horses and
effects, throw himself among his savage allies, and set all
pursuit at defiance. Mr. Hunt resolved, therefore, to frustrate
the knave, divert him, by management, from his plans, and make it
sufficiently advantageous for him to remain honest.

He took occasion, accordingly, in the course of conversation, to
inform Rose that, having engaged him chiefly as a guide and
interpreter through the country of the Crows, they would not
stand in need of his services beyond. Knowing, therefore, his
connection by marriage with that tribe, and his predilection for
a residence among them, they would put no restraint upon his
will, but, whenever they met with a party of that people, would
leave him at liberty to remain among his adopted brethren.
Furthermore, that, in thus parting with him, they would pay him a
half a year's wages in consideration of his past services, and
would give him a horse, three beaver traps, and sundry other
articles calculated to set him up in the world.

This unexpected liberality, which made it nearly as profitable
and infinitely less hazardous for Rose to remain honest than to
play the rogue, completely disarmed him. From that time his whole
deportment underwent a change. His brow cleared up and appeared
more cheerful; he left off his sullen, skulking habits, and made
no further attempts to tamper with the faith of his comrades.

On the 13th of August Mr. Hunt varied his course, and inclined
westward, in hopes of falling in with the three lost hunters;
who, it was now thought, might have kept to the right hand of Big
River. This course soon brought him to a fork of the Little
Missouri, about a hundred yards wide, and resembling the great
river of the same name in the strength of its current, its turbid
water, and the frequency of drift-wood and sunken trees.

Rugged mountains appeared ahead, crowding down to the water edge,
and offering a barrier to further progress on the side they were
ascending. Crossing the river, therefore, they encamped on its
northwest bank, where they found good pasturage and buffalo in
abundance. The weather was overcast and rainy, and a general
gloom pervaded the camp; the voyageurs sat smoking in groups,
with their shoulders as high as their heads, croaking their
foreboding, when suddenly towards evening a shout of joy gave
notice that the lost men were found. They came slowly lagging
into camp, with weary looks, and horses jaded and wayworn. They
had, in fact, been for several days incessantly on the move. In
their hunting excursion on the prairies they had pushed so far in
pursuit of buffalo, as to find it impossible to retrace their
steps over plains trampled by innumerable herds; and were baffled
by the monotony of the landscape in their attempts to recall
landmarks. They had ridden to and fro until they had almost lost
the points of the compass, and became totally bewildered; nor did
they ever perceive any of the signal fires and columns of smoke
made by their comrades. At length, about two days previously,
when almost spent by anxiety and hard riding, they came, to their
great joy, upon the "trail" of the party, which they had since
followed up steadily.

Those only who have experienced the warm cordiality that grows up
between comrades in wild and adventurous expeditions of the kind,
can picture to themselves the hearty cheering with which the
stragglers were welcomed to the camp. Every one crowded round
them to ask questions, and to hear the story of their mishaps;
and even the squaw of the moody half-breed, Pierre Dorion, forgot
the sternness of his domestic rule, and the conjugal discipline
of the cudgel, in her joy at his safe return.

CHAPTER XXVI.

The Black Mountains.- Haunts of Predatory Indians.- Their Wild
and Broken Appearance.- Superstitions Concerning Them - Thunder
Spirits.- Singular Noises in the Mountains- Secret Mines.-Hidden
Treasures.- Mountains in Labor. - Scientific Explanation.-
Impassable Defiles.- Black-Tailed Deer.-The Bighorn or Ahsahta.-
Prospect From a Lofty Height.- Plain With Herds of Buffalo.-
Distant Peaks of the Rocky Mountains.- Alarms in the Camp.-
Tracks of Grizzly Bears.- Dangerous Nature of This Animal.-
Adventures of William Cannon and John Day With Grizzly Bears.

MR. Hunt and his party were now on the skirts of the Black Hills,
or Black Mountains, as they are sometimes called; an extensive
chain, lying about a hundred miles east of the Rocky Mountains,
and stretching in a northeast direction from the south fork of
the Nebraska, or Platte River, to the great north bend of the
Missouri. The Sierra or ridge of the Black Hills, in fact, forms
the dividing line between the waters of the Missouri and those of
the Arkansas and the Mississippi, and gives rise to the Cheyenne,
the Little Missouri, and several tributary streams of the
Yellowstone.

The wild recesses of these hills, like those of the Rocky
Mountains, are retreats and lurking-places for broken and
predatory tribes, and it was among them that the remnants of the
Cheyenne tribe took refuge, as has been stated, from their
conquering enemies, the Sioux.

The Black Hills are chiefly composed of sandstone, and in many
places are broken into savage cliffs and precipices, and present
the most singular and fantastic forms; sometimes resembling towns
and castellated fortresses. The ignorant inhabitants of plains
are prone to clothe the mountains that bound their horizon with
fanciful and superstitious attributes. Thus the wandering tribes
of the prairies, who often behold clouds gathering round the
summits of these hills, and lightning flashing, and thunder
pealing from them, when all the neighboring plains are serene and
sunny, consider them the abode of the genii or thunder-spirits
who fabricate storms and tempests. On entering their defiles,
therefore, they often hang offerings on the trees, or place them
on the rocks, to propitiate the invisible "lords of the
mountains," and procure good weather and successful hunting; and
they attach unusual significance to the echoes which haunt the
precipices. This superstition may also have arisen, in part, from
a natural phenomenon of a singular nature. In the most calm and
serene weather, and at all times of the day or night, successive
reports are now and then heard among these mountains, resembling
the discharge of several pieces of artillery. Similar reports
were heard by Messrs. Lewis and Clarke in the Rocky Mountains,
which they say were attributed by the Indians to the bursting of
the rich mines of silver contained in the bosom of the mountains.

In fact, these singular explosions have received fanciful
explanations from learned men, and have not been satisfactorily
accounted for even by philosophers. They are said to occur
frequently in Brazil. Vasconcelles, Jesuit father, describes one
which he heard in the Sierra, or mountain region of Piratininga,
and which he compares to the discharges of a park of artillery.
The Indians told him that it was an explosion of stones. The
worthy father had soon a satisfactory proof of the truth of their
information, for the very place was found where a rock had burst
and exploded from its entrails a stony mass, like a bomb-shell,
and of the size of a bull's heart. This mass was broken either in
its ejection or its fall, and wonderful was the internal
organization revealed. It had a shell harder even than iron;
within which were arranged, like the seeds of a pomegranate,
jewels of various colors; some transparent as crystals; others of
a fine red, and others of mixed hues. The same phenomenon is said
to occur occasionally in the adjacent province of Guayra, where
stones of the bigness of a man's hand are exploded, with a loud
noise, from the bosom of the earth, and scatter about glittering
and beautiful fragments that look like precious gems, but are of
no value.

The Indians of the Orellanna, also, tell of horrible noises heard
occasionally in the Paraguaxo, which they consider the throes and
groans of the mountains, endeavoring to cast forth the precious
stones hidden within its entrails. Others have endeavored to
account for these discharges of "mountain artillery" on humbler
principles; attributing them to the loud reports made by the
disruption and fall of great masses of rock, reverberated and
prolonged by the echoes; others, to the disengagement of
hydrogen, produced by subterraneous beds of coal in a state of
ignition. In whatever way this singular phenomenon may be
accounted for, the existence of it appears to be well
established. It remains one of the lingering mysteries of nature
which throw something of a supernatural charm over her wild
mountain solitudes; and we doubt whether the imaginative reader
will not rather join with the poor Indian in attributing it to
the thunderspirits, or the guardian genii of unseen treasures,
than to any commonplace physical cause.

Whatever might be the supernatural influences among these
mountains, the travellers found their physical difficulties hard
to cope with. They made repeated attempts to find a passage
through or over the chain, but were as often turned back by
impassable barriers. Sometimes a defile seemed to open a
practicable path, but it would terminate in some wild chaos of
rocks and cliffs, which it was impossible to climb. The animals
of these solitary regions were different from those they had been
accustomed to. The black-tailed deer would bound up the ravines
on their approach, and the bighorn would gaze fearlessly down
upon them from some impending precipice, or skip playfully from
rock to rock. These animals are only to be met with in
mountainous regions. The former is larger than the common deer,
but its flesh is not equally esteemed by hunters. It has very
large ears, and the tip of the tail is black, from which it
derives its name.

The bighorn is so named from its horns; which are of a great
size, and twisted like those of a ram. It is called by some the
argali, by others the ibex, though differing from both of these
animals. The Mandans call it the ahsahta, a name much better than
the clumsy appellation which it generally bears. It is of the
size of a small elk, or large deer, and of a dun color, excepting
the belly and round the tail, where it is white. In its habits it
resembles the goat, frequenting the rudest precipices; cropping
the herbage from their edges; and like the chamois, bounding
lightly and securely among dizzy heights, where the hunter dares
not venture. It is difficult, therefore, to get within shot of
it. Ben Jones the hunter, however, in one of the passes of the
Black Hills, succeeded in bringing down a bighorn from the verge
of a precipice, the flesh of which was pronounced by the gormands
of the camp to have the flavor of excellent mutton.

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